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What a wild and crazy Daytona 500! Congratulations to winner Matt Kenseth!

I don’t know if I am a big fan of the “pack” racing being back.  To me “pack racing” is just asking for crashes that damage multiple cars.  It’s scary and dangerous and I am glad they don’t race super speedways more because THIS type of racing is what made me watch super speedways through my fingers to begin with.  The drivers seem to like it though- because I guess they feel more in control of their own destiny during the course of the race.  I don’t know about that though…let’s ask Tony Stewart how in control of his own destiny he felt right about here:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6, spin after an on track incident during the Daytona 500 February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America)

Tony was able to avoid multiple crashes until the very end. Despite taking a spin (above) and hitting (below) Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart was still able to bring the Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy home 16th!  I credit this entirely to Misty’s assertions that you “can’t keep Stewart down” – she was so right about that!

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, spins in front of Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 during the Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America)

The result wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see as a Tony fan (I REALLY wanted him to get that first Daytona 500 win!) but judging by all the mayhem he avoided/overcame? We’ll take it!  Tony is currently 16th in the points standings eighteen points behind race winner and current points leader Matt Kenseth.

Notes About Daytona:

  • Fox’s broadcast confused me- as the end was suppose to be that side-by-side coverage. They fully utilized side-by-side during the red-flag incident. And honestly it was kind of fun- especially when we see a group of drivers, including Brad Keselowski, walking from their cars towards turn 3 to see what on earth was going on (they were eventually requested by safety officials to turn back).  However, when they went green there were times that they ran full commercials and other times (during cautions) where they ran side-by-side.  Confusing! Maybe they were befuddled because of the lengthy red-flag? I dunno- but that seemed odd to me.
  • Speaking of Brad Keselowski- there are mumblings about him getting in trouble for having a phone in his car with him.  Um…it’s not like he was out there tweeting and driving.  He was using it during a red flag- so I don’t really see the big deal.  Now if there was proof he was out there tweeting while driving (even during yellows) I think that is a MAJOR no-no, but I don’t see an issue with him using it during a red flag.
  • As of this writing we are still waiting to hear if there will be any penalties for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus resulting from inspection infractions from the 48- who was found to have a non-standard c-post (or something like that).  I guess I am wrong because I always thought if infractions were found BEFORE practice/qualifying that they just made you fix the issue and roll back through technical inspection again.  Guess I am wrong there. Sounds like beyond monetary/points fines- there could very well be a suspension for Chad Knaus. I hope not because I know one of his fans will most likely be in the Neon Garage during the upcoming Las Vegas race, and I don’t want her to miss seeing her favorite crew chief.
  • I am still really disappointed in Sprint for having discontinued Sprint Cup Mobile on non-droid phones (see my original post: Dear Sprint You Have Disappointed Me).  I missed it ALOT during the race and didn’t realize just how much I did use it until I grabbed my phone and thought ARG FOILED AGAIN!
  • One bright side to the lengthy rain delay on Saturday AND the red flag delay on Sunday? Were the tweets from the Stewart-Haas Racing twitter account.  Funny stuff right there. Don’t follow? You definitely should

Gratuitous Tony Picture(s) of the Week:

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, (and PR Guru Mike Arning) walks on the grid while rain falls prior to the start of the Daytona 500 on February 26th, 2012. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images North America)

Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America)

The Next Race: Phoenix Raceway.

#GoTonyGo! #ImWithSmoke!

Warning: Thar be curse words ahead…ones that start with F so if you are sensitive to that (even though they are totally necessary) here is a link to a picture of Roxy (my adorable beagle) in my Flickr account that you can look at instead of reading this post that has a few F-words in it (I really did try to write this without the curse words…but it doesn’t have the same impact nor did it feel as cathartic):

There is a reason I don’t post my race reviews directly after races.  It’s not that I don’t have the time, I usually do, unless there is some sort of weather delay or something that has made the race eat up a majority or my day. The reason I don’t post directly (same thing with why I don’t live blog races) would be because if I had posted right after the Kansas 2 race it would have read something like this: (more…)

Okay- So our latest trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway was jam packed and full of fun. And I just wanted to use this space to tie everything together between the different postings Misty and I wrote regarding the weekend. (more…)

Well that was all she wrote…our beloved NASCAR season is over and we now have a Champion – Mr. Five-Time Jimmie Johnson.  And I really don’t understand people who say the chase system doesn’t make for an exciting finish- because that was a nail biter. I am going to be completely honest…I was so wrapped up in the chase that I don’t honestly have much to say about Tony’s run at Homestead except for this: You can’t keep a good man driver down (a lap). Tony somehow ended up a lap down not once, but TWICE through out the race and each time he was able to get that lap back. That last time he was a lap down (I think it had to do with the caution coming out after he and several others went through a round of pit stops- but I am not 100% sure about that) and it could have been bad since it was at the end of the race- but no Tony was about to pull off an eighth place finish (after being a lap down…TWICE) and moved up two positions in the points standings finishing the year in 7th place.  Race winner was Carl Edwards!

So who were you rooting for of the three contenders at Homestead? Were you rooting for Denny? Kevin? Jimmie?  I will tell you who I was rooting for if you tell me who you were rooting for!

Notes about Homestead:

  • I hate to say this…but that incident between Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle on lap 24- the one that caused Denny to spin – and some damage to the car? That really looked like Denny drifted up into Greg to me anyway.
  • And what about Kyle Busch? That was a fiery crash! I was all STOP THAT SUCKER AND JUMP OUT KYLE!!!  Of course I don’t want to see Kyle burn! I actually enjoy him as a driver (not as much as Tony of course).
  • I always feel bad when the championship is clinched by a driver who is NOT the winner in the race. It made me feel that Carl Edward’s celebration was truncated.  He did win the race.  I was a little worried for his safety when he got out of his car to do his trademark backflip and Jimmie had started burning out right next to him. Yikes!
  • Jimmie’s in-car reaction to having won the championship though? He was so excited! I have to say that Chad Knaus’s Post-It note (Our TEAM won!) to the camera- was appropriate. I liked how he emphasized TEAM especially since the pit crew swap.  (Consequently enough I noticed that nearly right away – with in the week of the swap- the Lowes racing website listed the “new” crew- while the Jeff Gordon website also listed his original crew. Interesting.) Ha! Take that Mike Ford!
  • Speaking of the pit crew swap- I had to say I was concerned that since the swap the wrong crew would get credited with the Tissot Fastest Pit Crew – but luckily they explained that on the national broadcast….that while Jeff Gordon’s crew won the award- it was the original crew….the one that ultimate went to help Jimmie after Texas.
  • Apparently we missed some sort of on track altercation between Logano and Montoya after the wreck? They mentioned it on the national broadcast quite briefly but inquiring minds want to know! What happened?

Next Race:  Daytona 2011.

Seriously though- like last year, I am planning on attending Champion’s week celebrations after Thanksgiving so posting might be light that week. I will tweet and facebook so follow me or friend me or whatever…but of course I will post afterwards!

(SMOKE fans…be sure to check back here Wednesday…Just saying).

I read a lot of websites with NASCAR news. Seriously- a LOT.  Luckily I have a pretty lenient workplace when it comes to internet usage.  Which means I can spend my breaks, lunch and other down time surfing NASCAR news .  That is an excellent benefit or I would constantly be glued to my laptop culling information from various news sites and blogs and the like when I get home from work and that is just not something I think would be fun- because I am pretty much already glued to a computer screen at work anyway for my job (you know my “real” job- as I have mentioned before and will mention again- I DO NOT GET PAID to write about NASCAR or anything else you see here).  Anyway- there have been a LOT of great articles lately and I wanted to point out some of my favorites I have come across in the last couple of days because I feel you should definitely be reading them:

First up is an article about Tony Stewart (because it really is all about our driver Tony right??):

So AOL fanhouse motorsports writer Holly Cain was given an interesting opportunity…to follow Tony Stewart around for 48 hours midweek for kind of a “day-in-the-life” type piece (yes I know that days are typically 24 hours).  Let me tell you that first off I WOULD LOVE this opportunity — I forget who I said this to recently regarding Tony, but I often wonder when the man sleeps with all he has on his plate so to speak.   Anyway, the article she wrote was one of the best articles about Tony Stewart I have read in a really really long time (not withstanding the BadGroove Tony Stewart interviews of course) and I highly recommend her two part article:

Tony Stewart Gives Fanhouse an All-Access Pass- Part One

and Tony Stewart Gives Fanhouse an All-Access Pass- Part Two

Next article I would like to point you to is an article about the 24/48 pit swap by Jeff Gluck over at SBNation.  It is an interesting and quite informative piece- with some great quotes from both crew chiefs regarding the mid-race switch as well as the decision to keep the pit crews switched for the remainder of the season:

Chad Knaus, Steve LeTarte Open Up About Hendrick Pit Crew Swap.

Another interesting article on the same topic comes from TC over at one of my all time favorite NASCAR blogs (The Nascar Insiders): Digesting The 24/48 Pit Crew Swap (this article has some interesting comments).

And finally I want to point you over to frontstretch.com to an article by Phil Allaway about ESPN’s race coverage: Talking NASCAR TV: Focus Hurts ESPN Once Again At Texas

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Also, some shameless self promotion: my next piece for the Racing In America Blog is up- check out my article Waiting Until Next Year (and while you are there peruse other blog entries by other writers- there is some GREAT stuff over there).

I wasn’t going to watch. While I do get extremely  “itchy” for racing action over the off-season, I decided I wasn’t going to scratch my itch by having to resubscribe to HBO after I had just removed it from my cable line up since it NEVER gets watched.  Anyway I resisted the call of 24/7- The Road To Daytona. I resisted and even though the closer the show came to debuting the weaker my resolve got but I still hung on with determination that I was NOT going to resubscribe. Nope!

Then HBO did the coolest thing ever- and that was make the first episode available online to viewers…and damned if I am not hooked.  The show provides a fascinating look into the team that everyone loves to hate…the history making 4-consecutive championship 48 team.  However- it isn’t just the Jimmie show and the first episode at least strives to great lengths to illustrate that point.  I don’t know what fascinated me more- the small glimpse we get into the “jackass from El Cajon” (hey Jimmie said it – NOT ME) or the look we get into Chad Knaus that makes him seem more human and less like the super-crew chief who wears kryptonite underwear even if he is a bit of an “asshole” to work for (again- Chad said it not me)!

Even if you aren’t into NASCAR- if you have HBO I think you should try to check out HBO’s 24-7- The Road to Daytona if you are just the littlest bit curious. You can check out the first episode on the HBO site. I really hope that they put this out on DVD- because I would buy it.

Ok…so there are a couple of what I consider “funny” outtakes from the whole champions week festivities that I wanted to share with you (ok after further looking over of my postie note about the “outtakes” post I guess two are outtakes, one is a random snippet of someone else’s conversation and one is something I want answered):

  • After all drivers had passed us on the red carpet into the roast, Jimmie being the last driver to meander by us and by the time he was pretty much out of earshot of us, my friend turned to me and said “Whatchya doing Jimmie?” (in the vain of the Lowe’s commercial)….to which I replied “Winning a championship Chad.” Now this in itself is NOT funny- its just something we occasionally do (snipe back and forth in commercial or movie dialogue snippets) but what WAS funny was that there was some guy on the red carpet right in front of us at the time, who thought we were pretty damn funny. I don’t know who he was but he was on the carpet wearing a credential of some sort…he looked like he wanted to interject something into our conversation…he even stopped right in front of us and chortled but didn’t actually say anything.
  • My BIGGEST faux pas of the entire weekend…and if you know me you know I am faux pas prone…also happened along the red carpet of the roast…but earlier.  I actually debated NOT telling you but then…what is the fun of that if I can’t make fun of myself right? So Denny Hamlin has just passed us on the red carpet…and by just past us I mean apparently he is like still two or three inches from me but I had shifted my attention to Mark Martin. So I catch sight of Mark Martin who is probably about fifteen feet or so down the red carpet to my right…which is the way I am facing and I say to my friend “He is so cute!” Meaning that Mark Martin is so cute because he is so little and friendly. And I mean both of those…he is like the tiniest man…but so so nice. Well my friend looks at me with like a horrified look on her face but says NOTHING to me.  So a little while later after the above bullet, I learn that Denny Hamlin was still right next to me and looked over at me thinking I was talking about him…and smiled. Thank goodness I didn’t realize this at the time or I probably would have either: A. Told Denny I was actually talking about Mark Martin…but really you’re not bad yourself, or B. Run off and hid behind something. Jury is still out on which I would have actually done.
  • The next incident happened at The Stewies. It had been awhile because we had already moved in towards the center of the balcony at least once or twice as we now had people on both sides of us. Ryan Newman was announced as the guest…and made his way down the golden staircase onto the stage, escorted by at least one, probably two lovely showgirls.  He takes his seat at the table with Stewart and Yokum, at which point the guy standing next us up in the balcony proclaims “That Ryan Newman, he’s a big boy! Jesus!” (but the Jesus is drawn out like…GEEEEEEEEEEEEZUZ)- we weren’t even sure if he was talking to us or just made the statement outloud to himself or what.  My friend just looks at me and I just shrug.  The day before I stood pretty much right in front of Ryan Newman…and what you need to know about me is I am on the short side- 5′ 4″ in shoes…and I didn’t think Ryan was overly tall or overly wide (unlike Mark Martin who was incredibly tiny)- especially where I felt the need to proclaim it in such a dramatic fashion! I guess you really kind of had to be there for this one to be funny….
  • And this last one…is more of just me wondering outloud (or in writing) kind of thing. Ok so at The Stewies when Ryan and Greg Biffle left the stage Tony was bidding them adieu and said something to Biffle like Don’t Get Into Too Much Trouble….or something like that. And then patted Ryan on the back and said “I know I don’t need to worry about you- you don’t gamble and you don’t drink…” I didn’t think anything too odd about it…I just carried on. Well then while watching the actual awards (from the comfort of my friend’s living room) Tony said something during his speech about Ryan getting him into trouble when they are together….ok if Ryan doesn’t drink or gamble…he must be kind of straight-laced kind of guy…so what kind of trouble can Ryan get Tony into?

Well that’s it in regards to Champion’s week. I had a  GREAT time.  I hope it stays in Vegas for awhile because I will go out of my way to be in town each year!

This was NOT my first trip to PIR actually. That happened this spring and you can read about that here. As you know I left on Wednesday and drove the 500 miles to Vegas to pick up BFFM!  She showed me her new office area and then we hung out for the remainder of the day.  I will say this- traveling on Wednesdays rock because i did NOT hit one lick of traffic on the way to Vegas.  The next day we packed up BFFM’s car and she drove us to Phoenix. We were staying at a different Hotel…this time in TEMPE just one the other side of the airport from where we stayed last time.  We used hotwire again and got our hotel cheap.  One of the good things about staying in the area we were staying in is that we were really close to ASU so that meant we weren’t at a loss for eateries and the such.  Although being by a college campus does have disadvantages too like the eateries being very busy on Friday and Saturday night!  Once we got to Phoenix on Thursday we checked into our hotel and “got our Phoenix legs” and settled in.

Anyhoo…one of our main reasons for going to Phoenix chase race was…I was going to a (hide your eyes fellow Smoke fans) Jeff Gordon Network event where the Jeff Gordon himself would be there.  It’s only fair really- i have drug BFFM to her share of home depot appearances (I haven’t caught Tony at an Office Depot yet  but I did at the Palazzo at the beginning of the season for the race at LVMS).  Anyway- this event was at a hotel in Scottsdale and started at 7:00 am (registration/sign in started at 6:30!!) and was only for fan club members and their one allotted guest (Yes I was the plus 1).  Let me tell you – while I have been to several driver’s cattlecall sponsor meet n greets and usually have a pretty darn good time at them- going to a fan club event is a completely different thing…it really rocked.  There was breakfast…and the raffling of door prizes (I won a snowman 24 ornament that I of course gave to BFFM)…there was a best dressed fan contest which was fun. Then Jeff Gordon came in and talked to us…gave us some opening remarks, answered some questions from the emcee and two lucky fans.  Then we were all called up table by table to get our item autographed and have our picture taken by a professional photographer (that part was odd and kinds surreal- I haven’t seen my picture yet but I am sure that I look like a complete doof because just as we were turning towards the photographer, Jeff asked me where I was from so I think I turned towards him to answer him…anyway…it was a really nice event and Jeff took his time with each person and would take a couple minutes to talk with you/answer questions with you…it was on a completely different level then those cattle call type sponsor events I am use to I will say that.  I wish Tony’s fan club did events at other tracks and not just around the brickyard…because the JGN one was fun.

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff

BFFM at the Jeff Gordon Network event- checking out the merchandise table and getting ready to meet Jeff.

We really didn’t have much more to do on Friday because we didn’t have Friday tickets to the track.  So we did what most red-blooded American girls do…we shopped (in Scottsdale)! I picked up the rest of my nephew’s Christmas presents (and a cute little onsie for their new baby due in Feb). I picked up some birthday presents for my Mom because I would be spending her birthday driving between Phoenix and Vegas on the way home (oh don’t go feeling sorry for her- she was ok with it).

Side note about Phoenix: This was the third time I have been to Phoenix (second for a race) and this was the first time I was there during the time change (Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings Time).  The time change TOTALLY messed me up– but in the WRONG way. I live on Pacific time, and they were on Mountain- so their 9:00 pm was really my 8:00 pm yet to me felt like it was 11:00 pm.

On Saturday- we were at the track all day.  I don’t even remember what time we got to the track in the morning but basically we got there, put our backpacks on, I had my Canon 20D strapped around my neck, we hiked into the track- stopped in the merchandise area- made a couple purchases- and then we were into the track where I believe the cup cars were just starting to roll out onto the track for first practice when- yep it started to rain. I scrambled and put the camera in my pack and we walked around in the rain looking at the different booths. I spent a lot of time in the Chevy booth trying to figure out a way to drive off in the camaro they had on display (that is one sweet car).  They actually were letting fans test drive them but I was afraid if I test drove one I would be towing one back home behind the HHR. We spent some time walking around the pits, then found a spot to stand and watch the cars come zooming into the pits from the track under one of the pedestrian bridges- we stayed there as long as we could but figured out that most people didn’t stand their cuz its fairly noxious!!! It was actually a fairly good vantage point to see Jimmie, Jeff and Tony’s garage stall so we prob stood there most of practice…until we had headaches anyway.  We saw Chad Knaus walking back and forth a couple times and Steve Letarte once.  Unfortunately Tony’s garage stall was farther down so I didn’t see much of his guys- just him zooming in from the track.

Tony follows Kyle in during practice for some adjustments.

We then made our way to our seats in the AJ FOYT grandstands to watch the Nationwide race and hopefully see Kyle tie up the championship. Unfortunately that didn’t happen- instead Carl won and Kyle had a pretty bad day.

Best thing heard at the track on Saturday was two twentyish year old guys in the pit area talking back and forth while waiting for practice to start. The Jet dryers were on the track.

GUY ONE to GUY TWO: Dude- those things (motions towards the jet dryers)- they sound like planes!

GUY TWO nods in steadfast agreement with GUY ONE.

(I so much wanted to walk up to them and say: HERE’S YOUR SIGNS but I didn’t).

On Sunday we get to the track early- do a quick merchandise hauler sweep where I buy myself a pink hat with a sparkly 14 on it because some doofus left her other hat at the hotel.  It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  We walked down to the pit area and wandered up and down pit road and out onto the track where I took this picture of BFFM:

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

BFFM Flashes the 24 on track Sunday morning at Phoenix.

Sunoco on pit road.

Sunoco on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road.

Per my usual thing- I took lots of pictures of tires on pit road. These happen to be Matt Kenseth's tires.

After we decided we had had enough of pit road we went up to our seats (same as Saturday) to watch the race.  We all know the outcome there.

When we were parking in the morning BFFM pointed out to me a brand new camaro in the dirt lot we were parked in. We saw it on our way out and someone had put an empty beer bottle on the hood. JERK.

Most interesting fashion statement of Sunday:

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guys outfit proves it.

Race fans are an interesting breed..this guy's outfit proves it.

So far with our experiences PIR has the best traffic leaving and Infineon has the worst.

We stopped for a leisurely dinner and went back to our hotel. On our floor in the hallway I guess some people were trying to make our hotel in Tempe a home away from home by laying out their own welcome mat- that was the most bizarre thing I think I saw all weekend:

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!

Home Away From Home in Tempe- our hotel room neighbors laid out a welcome mat in front of their door. ODD!